Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close

Letters

Vol. 20 No. 6 · 19 March 1998

Search by issue:

Brief Shining Moments

Christopher Hitchens writes in the latest recycling of his anti-Kennedy rants (LRB, 19 February) that it was William Manchester on whom Jacqueline Kennedy planted the Camelot metaphor. This is typical both of Hitchens’s hopeless ignorance of American affairs and of his preference for rant over fact. The rest of us think that Mrs Kennedy was planting the Camelot idea on Theodore H. White. As for those ‘bow-tied American scholars’ by whom, Hitchens proclaims, ‘“Camelot" is always cited without a breath of irony,’ I would suggest that, if Hitchens could stop ranting long enough to read anything, he might look at the derision cast on the Camelot idea on pages 406-7 of the bow-tied Cycles of American History, including the remark that Camelot was hardly ‘a place known for marital fidelity’. Or perhaps Hitchens doesn’t get irony.

Hitchens must be the only journalist more gullible than Seymour Hersh, whose dreadful book he cites respectfully, as if Hersh’s fantasies had any more than an accidental connection with reality. Seymour Hersh, who on page 123 of The Dark Side of Camelot has Lyndon Johnson, himself not a man known for marital fidelity, using Kennedy’s sexual vagaries to blackmail his way onto the Democratic ticket in 1960 – and then on page 406 about to be dropped from the 1964 ticket, his blackmail power evidently expiring, to make way for Robert Kennedy (though, as any schoolchild should know, if Hersh and Hitchens don’t, the American Constitution requires the President and Vice-President to be from different states, and both Kennedys were then from Massachusetts)? Seymour Hersh, whose notion that the mobster Sam Giancana was the political boss of Chicago is an insult to the memory of Mayor Richard Daley? Seymour Hersh, who on page 4 has Kennedy sending money to the Mob and on page 140 has the Mob sending money to Kennedy without any explanation as to why either needed money from the other? Seymour Hersh, who fell for the forged Marilyn Monroe documents even though they had zip codes years before zip codes were invented? Christopher Hitchens is alone (except for Hersh) as a true believer in The Dark Side of Camelot.

I won’t go into all Hitchens’s fumbles, but one persisting theme in his anti-Kennedy rants is the systematic exoneration of President Eisenhower and his Administration. You would not gather it from his piece, but it was the Eisenhower Administration, not the Kennedy Administration, that recruited mobsters to assassinate Castro. It was the Eisenhower Administration, not the Kennedy Administration, that contemplated the assassination of Lumumba in the Congo (he was killed by the Tshombe crowd a few days after Kennedy assumed office). It was the Eisenhower Administration that planned the Bay of Pigs, and it was Ike himself who, in their last meeting before the Inauguration, urged Kennedy to go full speed ahead.

Hitchens goes on about ‘the sick Kennedy obsession with Cuba’. If Cuba was Kennedy’s obsession, the Soviet nuclear missiles provided him with the best possible pretext for invading the country and smashing Castro for ever. But Robert Kennedy led the fight against a sneak attack, and John Kennedy, overruling the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the decision against a military response. A year after the missile crisis, Kennedy was even exploring through Ambassador William Attwood (US) and Ambassador Carlos Lechuga (Cuba), as well as through Jean Daniel of Le Nouvel Observateur, the possibility of normalising relations with Cuba. Some sick obsession!

Let us rather mourn a really sick obsession – Christopher Hitchens’s obsession with John F. Kennedy.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr
New York

Christopher Hitchens writes: In my article I gave an imaginary instance, drawn from the imaginative work of Arthur Schlesinger, of the means by which an apologist for JFK might have proved that, had ‘He’ lived, the Bay of Pigs invasion would not have taken place. Some readers may have found this counterfactual exercise too strenuous, or too cynical. But here, prompt upon its hour, is a letter from Pierre Salinger in the Nation of 16 February:

You will remember that I was President Kennedy’s press secretary. Five days before he was assassinated, he had a meeting at the White House with a French journalist, Jean Daniel, now editor of France’s most important news magazine, Le Nouvel Observateur. During the meeting, Kennedy found out that Daniel was on his way to Havana for an interview with Fidel Castro. Kennedy asked Daniel to tell Castro that he was now ready to negotiate normal relations with Cuba and drop the embargo. Daniel was in a meeting with Castro when the phone rang and Castro discovered that Kennedy had been assassinated.

If Kennedy had lived, I am confident he would have negotiated that agreement and dropped the embargo, because he was upset with the way the Soviet Union was playing a strong role in Cuba and Latin America. Cuba would be a different country now and Castro would not be in power anymore.

There have since been seven other Presidents, three of them Democrats, who have failed to lift the embargo. In the case of the first post-Cold War Democrat, who ran against George Bush from the right on the issue of Cuba – just as Kennedy did against Eisenhower – the embargo has been extended to include legally dubious sanctions even on third countries trading with Havana.

Mr Salinger’s choice of the word ‘upset’ to describe his hero’s view of Cuba and the former Soviet Union is a collector’s item for those of us who study the mania of the JFK cult, and the imperviousness of its remaining devotees.

So no wonder that Arthur Schlesinger Jr, in dreaming the same dream, limits himself to the feeble word ‘exploring’. As he shows even in the supposedly saving citation from his own book, euphemism is a necessity for the Kennedy fan. I’m mainly struck by what he does not contest – the Judith Campbell Exner/Mob connection; the subversion of Guyana; the bugging of Martin Luther King; the timing of a murder plot to coincide with the Bay of Pigs; the killings of Diem in Saigon and Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. On these and other matters he won’t come out to play anymore.

Future historians will no doubt be grateful for the information that the Bay of Pigs invasion, actually executed by Kennedy, was ‘planned’ by the Eisenhower Administration. I emphasised that myself, adding for the sake of the record that Kennedy fought an election on the claim – which he knew to be a lie – that Eisenhower and Nixon had gone soft on Castro. If Kennedy had ordered a nuclear strike, Schlesinger’s last fawning words would doubtless have been that it was Eisenhower who built the bombs and missiles in the first place.

The fact that Eisenhower and Nixon also flirted with the Mafia and would probably have killed Lumumba does not in the least undermine the point of my article, which almost pedantically stressed the permanent element of ‘bipartisanship’ in these matters. It’s contemptible of Schlesinger to seek apology for the state crimes of his patrons with the excuse that ‘everyone does it,’ just as it’s laughable of him, having made a career out of scraping acquaintance with the divine Kennedy boys, to accuse me of being the obsessed one.

Seymour Hersh can stick up for himself, but I did point out that he’d been briefly gulled by a false Monroe trail before he recovered his balance. As to whether Giancana or Daley was the Capo de tutti capi in Chicago, I leave it to Schlesinger’s expertise.

To Mr Seabright I would say, or rather repeat, that sleeping with a capo’s mistress and giving her a private line to the White House was at the very least a ‘suggestive cross-over’. As for Vernon Jordan’s current role – it’s not the lipstick, stupid. It’s the Revlon connection.

Mr Meadmore does not convince me that Taylor Branch, a very scrupulous historian and a very staunch defender of the King legacy, would have dreamt of including such a painful story unless his honesty had compelled him to acknowledge its truth. ‘FBI officials’ have been known, though usually off the record, to be veracious. On the second eavesdrop, had King been quoted as saying, ‘I am a Communist’ – the words Hoover wanted to hear – no one would have credited them. But he admired Marx’s writings and had many good Marxist friends, and might have said something of the kind without (call me old-fashioned if you will) compromising himself.

I abase myself for confusing Pierre Schlesinger and Arthur Salinger Jr, just as I’m sorry to have mixed up Theodore Manchester with William White. But the Kennedy hydra sometimes has that hypnotic effect, even as its many stumps are serially cauterised by the slow emergence of true record.

Did I miss something, or was Christopher Hitchens’s rubbishing of the claim that ‘sexual conduct’ has ‘little to do with leadership capabilities’ unsupported by any of the evidence in the rest of his piece about Kennedy? The article amasses such overwhelming reasons to despise Kennedy on familiarly political grounds that it’s puzzling why Hitchens thinks anything is added by the sneer that he was also a ‘serial fornicator’. Saying there’s a ‘suggestive crossover’ between the two doesn’t look like an argument to me. As for the moral Hitchens draws for today’s Presidency, if Vernon Jordan has been procuring ‘hush-money and soft jobs for friendly witnesses’ it hardly matters whether his company produces lipstick or ball-bearings. Would the latter be a suggestive cross-over too?

Does Hitchens think Kennedy would have been improved as a President by having to endure continual interrogation by the press and judiciary about his sexual relationships? Does he think Clinton’s Presidency has been improved by having to answer any questions about his past or present liaisons that cross suggestively over into an Independent Prosecutor’s mind? Can Hitchens suggest a single reason why the knowledge that a President has been adulterous should lead voters to make better informed judgments about the President’s fitness for office than could be made on the basis of more straightforwardly political information such as that contained in the bulk of Hitchens’s own article? Might not a moratorium on such questions remove at least one inducement to the kind of secrecy and manipulation that constitute an uncontentious political threat?

Paul Seabright
Cambridge University

Christopher Hitchens has a natural propensity to turn things upside down to see them right way up. In his latest article, only five of the 22 paragraphs are free of factual error. My main objection, however, is to his credulity and naivety in believing Taylor Branch’s story about Martin Luther King remarking of Mrs Kennedy: ‘Look at her. Sucking him off one last time.’

Of King’s womanising, his biographer David Garrow quotes King himself, to a friend: ‘I’m away from home 25 to 27 days a month. Fucking’s a form of anxiety reduction.’ But for Taylor Branch’s story no verification is offered beyond the ridiculous ‘Author’s interviews with FBI officials.’ Branch has heard no tape-recording that might exist. Doctored or not, the surveillance data are now sealed by court order. Branch and Hitchens may care to reflect on the fact that, to please their boss Hoover, FBI agents also reported King as saying to a friend: ‘I am a Marxist.’

Michael Meadmore
London W12

Christopher Hitchens’s discussion of the Kennedy phenomenon reminds me of the contribution of the television serial Dallas in the late Seventies and early Eighties to maintaining an idealised picture of the man and his family in the American mind. The parallels are unmistakable: the persistent question, Who killed JFK in Dallas?, was echoed in the cliffhanging, Who shot JR in Dallas?; each man was a member of a powerful family with a brother called Bobby; each a womaniser; and so on. The serial presumably provided a distraction from the painful curiosity caused by the shocking revelations about the charismatic President.

Lorne Loxterkamp
Braunton, Devon

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.